CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cory Booker, the reform-minded Newark, N.J., mayor and potential future presidential contender, was injured this morning stepping out of his SUV en route to talk to the Florida delegation at the Marriott Charlotte City Center.
Despite the injury, the 43-year-old Rhodes Scholar clearly stole the show, at a breakfast that also included potential presidential prospect Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, and U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor and Corrine Brown.
Booker said he worries that Democrats won't get as engaged in this election as they did four years ago and will fall into a "state of sedentary agitation" fuming about the critics of President Barack Obama.
"Change is never made in a sedentary position. Democracy is not a spectator sport. You can't sit back and just throw out commentary about what's going on you've got to get up and get into the game," Booker said, drawing the crowd to its feet as he thundered about how much better off America is today than four years ago.
"Four years ago we were hemorrhaging jobs, 750,000 jobs a month. Four years ago our financial industry was in free fall. Four years ago we had an auto industry that was crashing. Four years ago we had a foreclosure rate that was off the charts," he said.
"Now here we are four years later and we have had 29 straight months of job creation. We have a stabilized financial industry, we saved 1.4 million jobs in the auto industry, and we have our country back on the road to recovery from a Bush economy that drove us into the ditch in the first place. Four years ago if a woman had a job the same as a man she couldn't fight for the same pay. ... Four years ago, they were taking people and making them second-class citizens in our military. Now Barack Obama ended 'Don't Ask Don't Tell.' Four years ago we were in a war under false pretenses, losing blood and treasure. Now we ended the war in Iraq and brought our troops home!"
Warner, 57, said the Republicans in Tampa offered no ideas beyond cutting taxes and regulations.
"I spent 20 years in business. I'll match my business credentials with anybody on their side, and I've looked at the Romney-Ryan plan. You're going to hear a lot of speakers talk about what the Romney-Ryan plan does for Medicare, for seniors. I don't need to go through that. Let me talk about it from a business guy standpoint, because this hasn't not gotten that much attention," Warner said.
"Total federal spending on everything the government does on domestic — energy, law enforcement, education, infrastructure, research and development — that's only 16 percent of our budget. The Romney-Ryan business plan would take that down to less than 5 percent. Now you tell me if America can complete, if Florida can compete, if Virginia can compete if we're spending less than 5 percent of our budget on educating and training our young people and our workers, on building our roads and bridges, on doing the research and development on what the economy's going to look like five years from now. That is not a business plan that China will have. It's not a business plan that Brazil will have. It's not even a business plan that the Europeans will have. If we can't do better than the Europeans, where are we?"